Props to the Dead Sea: My AHAVA Skin-Care Obsession

At 29 years old, I’m nowhere near over the hill – but I take my skin-care regimen seriously. (How else am I going to pretend I’m still in my twenties long after I’ve hit the big 3-0?) I moisturize day and night. Slather on the sunscreen. Remove all traces of makeup before bed without fail. So when I got the chance to try AHAVA’s Dead Sea Osmoter™ Concentrate, a moisture- and radiance-boosting serum, I was in. One-hundred percent.

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September 16, 2013

Switch Up Your Swimwear: How to Rock a One-Piece

You’d think a one-piece would be easier to pull off than its two-piece counterpart. But between less-than-desirable tan lines, choosing the best cut, and knowing the right time and place to wear one, they’ve managed to confound me since I learned how to swim.

However, due to the popularity of the one-piece this season (and a recent trip to a resort in the Mexican Caribbean), I’m convinced it’s time to suit up and see if someone other than the original cast of Baywatch can pull it off.

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How to choose a suit 
A one-piece can be just as sexy as a bikini, allowing you to showcase your best assets while still leaving plenty to the imagination. Show off long, lean stems with a high-cut leg, the graceful arch of your back with a deep U-cut back, or killer abs with side cutouts. I picked up a white monokini – white stands out nicely against a tan (wishful thinking, considering my English heritage), and the cutout details give it a modern and flirty update.

Where to flaunt it 
The modern one-piece is meant for leisure – think poolside at a chic resort rather than lifeguard uniform. The perfect place to try it? An afternoon harbor cruise or hotel rooftop pool party. I wore mine with a bold, printed sarong around my waist for some piña coladas at a beach bar featuring driftwood swings and white canopied beds on the sand. Best of all, I just slipped on my flip-flops and I was ready to poke around the local jewelry stores and do some sightseeing on my walk back to the resort.

What to wear with it 
Don’t shy away from jewelry just because you’re waterside (although we don’t recommend pulling a Kim K. and wearing $175K real diamonds). A statement necklace and wide-brim floppy hat instantly give this look a super-glamorous touch that’ll have you feeling straight out of a magazine editorial.

By Grace Romanowsky, Staff Writer

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May 9, 2013

The Turkish Hammam Spa Room

The latest in spa trends, the hammam room (otherwise known as the Turkish bath) is the Middle Eastern equivalent of a steam bath. It’s similar to a sauna in that it’s a communal room heated by a continuous flow of hot air (minus the coals), but is more closely related to ancient Greek and Roman bathing practices.

Traditionally, the bather starts in the hot room, splashes themselves with cold water, performs a full-body wash, and then receives a massage before finally heading to the cooling room for a period of rest and relaxation. Though I didn’t indulge in the massage, I figured this couldn’t be a half-bad way to spend my Sunday.

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First Impressions
I robed up in the changing room and slipped into some jelly sandals before heading in. It was far larger than I expected, completely tiled and consisting of a series of platforms at different levels, a sink in the middle of the room, and a shower in the corner. Ambient music played in the background and a fountain trickled down an inlaid rock wall. A handful of people were on different platforms around the room, either on their backs or with their legs up against the wall. I noticed they were using rolled-up towels as neck pillows, so I found a platform of my own and did the same (all while trying to hide that this was my first time).

The Experience
After settling into my spot and taking a few deep breaths, I immediately noticed that the air and humidity were more comparable to a jungle climate than the dry air of a sauna. The heat was also a lot more gradual and somehow more relaxing, and it took me far longer to reach my limit. When I had enough, I rinsed my face and neck with cold water from the sink and headed to the Zen lounge, which consisted of couches for reclining and pitchers of fruit-infused ice water and tea for rehydrating. The difference in temperature between the warm, wet room and this air-conditioned lounge was a refreshing jolt and left my skin feeling tingly and refreshed.

The Verdict
I left convinced that the ancient Greeks and Romans definitely knew how to relax in style. There’s no need to splurge and go all-out on a full-body massage as long as this tiled oasis exists. Consider me a lifer. This was a far, far better choice than staying in and doing my laundry all day.

By Grace Romanowsky, Staff Writer

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May 2, 2013

Pilates Barre Class

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Pilates barre, a fusion workout of Pilates, dance, and yoga, has been heralded by celebrities, models, and chiropractors alike for its ability to create lean, long muscles, reduce stress, and improve posture. I consider myself relativity in shape (though, admittedly, my athletic career peaked in high school) and I love to dance, so I figured I’d have no trouble dropping in for a class to see what all the hype was about… but this is not a class to be taken lightly.

The Barre Work
Unsure of what to expect, I walked into a room of girls pliéing at the ballet barre in a mirrored room. I don’t know whether it was my underdeveloped leg muscles or my brand new yoga mat that gave me away, but the instructor immediately asked if it was my first class and positioned me at the barre next to one of the more experienced girls. I began to mimic her movements, feeling a little bit self-conscious but not really challenged at first. What felt like hundreds of squats later, however, my legs were shaking uncontrollably and the announcement of the switch to the mat was a welcome relief.

The Mat Work
I never thought I’d be grateful to be told to hold the plank position for as long as I could, but anything besides squats sounded wildly appealing at the time. On the mats we worked with medicine balls, Pilates rings, and blocks in a series of core exercises as the instructor counted off to the beat of the music. The lights were gradually dimmed as the class came to an end with some deep stretching and “introspection” time (all I could think about was how happy I was that I live in a ground-level apartment).

The Verdict
My overall opinion on the experience: this class is for you if you’d like to explore 500 different forms of cruel and unusual punishment to a Ke$ha soundtrack. Was it rewarding when it was over? Absolutely. I’ve never felt so satisfyingly exhausted after any other one-hour workout. But go in prepared to really work it out.

By Grace Romanowsky, Staff Writer

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April 25, 2013

Rue Road Test: Tropical Palm Prints

With the slowly warming temps starting to gain momentum, it’s hard to not get into a vacation-like frame of mind. But if I can’t be flanked by palm trees on a daily basis, then donning Rio de Janeiro–inspired, retro jungle prints will have to do instead. To pull off this tropical trend (without going full-on “tourist”), mix neutrals with smaller doses of the energetic print. Note: Umbrella drinks are optional, but highly recommended.

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A printed scarf is the simplest way to inject this bold pattern into an everyday look without going overboard. I paired one with a tailored white blazer for an urban vibe that can go straight from the office to a night out on the town. For a more casual day look, wear it wrapped around your neck over a cami, then when the sun goes down, fashion it into a halter top and slip on your favorite pair of espadrilles to take the night by storm.

Ready to commit full force? Jungle-fauna print pants are wildly cool when paired with a brightly colored sleeveless blouse, and best accessorized by some bossa nova playing on your headphones, a straw Panama hat, and arms piled with wooden bangles.

By Grace Romanowsky, Staff Writer

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April 11, 2013

Rue Road Test: Lucite Accessories

From sky-high pumps to box clutches, cuffs, and statement necklaces, it’s clear that Lucite accessories are a must-have this spring. I love the illusion of walking on air that a Lucite heel creates, or the look of crystals seemingly afloat within a bracelet or necklace.  What’s especially cool about this trend is how it manages to make a bold statement without taking over, complementing virtually any outfit, day or night.

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I tried this trend with a wide cuff bracelet featuring inset opaline crystals and loved how the girly jewels looked paired with a leather jacket. If you’re feeling extra daring, accessorize a see-through clutch with the contents themselves: an eye-popping phone case, funky shades, and your favorite lip gloss. One added bonus? Lucite is waterproof, so it’ll take you right from April showers to a day at the beach. And the award for most versatile accessory goes to…

By Grace Romanowsky, Staff Writer

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April 4, 2013

Rue Road Test: 60s-Inspired Round Sunglasses

Round, 60s-inspired sunglasses are coming back in a big way this spring and summer. Flattering on those with an oval-, diamond-, square-, triangle-, or oblong-shaped face (so… just about everyone), these frames can be worn confidently from dawn to dusk.

I don’t usually stray too far from my classic Ray-Bans, but I had to find out for myself whether this hot 2013 look would work for me. So I got in touch with my inner John Lennon and tried this bold trend. The verdict? I’m officially a convert:

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Boasting black and gold frames with iridescent blue lenses, I chose this pair to modernize the look. My face is oval-shaped, and I found the thicker frames more flattering than the more retro rimless variety. But what to wear with this statement making-accessory? I went for an edgy day look and paired with a leather jacket, black skinnies, and a middle hair part, but I can’t wait to wear these babies with metallic swim pieces and spiked jelly sandals this summer.

By Grace Romanowsky, Staff Writer

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March 28, 2013

Rue Road Test: How to Rock Celestial Prints

Celestial prints are at the top of my list of trends to work into my wardrobe this spring. Their pastel, watercolor hues and geometric motifs make them perfect for a season of warming temps and budding flowers.

Whether it be leggings, shoes, tops, or accessories, I can’t wait to get my hands on more pieces to make some far-out combos – but to do it without looking like a wannabe astronaut? That’s the tricky part. Lucky for you, I’m here to try it out before you land yourself on a tabloid’s “Don’t” fashion list.

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Out there
For a futuristic, space-age look, wear this print with a holographic clutch, studded bangles, and neon accents like a belt or shoes. I tried pairing a celestial crop top with a high-waisted neon green scuba skirt and a light-wash denim jacket for a casual weekend night out.

More grounded
Think this trend is a little too much? Bring it down to a safer level by pairing a celestial-print top with a solid basic, such as an ivory skirt or tailored boot-cut denim. Throw a blazer on top to make it office-chic.

By Grace Romanowsky, Staff Writer

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March 21, 2013

Rue Road Test: 3 Ways to Wear Printed Pants

My floral pants have been practically banging down my closet door since the first blades of grass poked through the snow. And with daylight savings behind us, I fully intend on rocking them every which way – effective immediately. That is, until (let’s face it) I eventually cut them into jorts, which is the inevitable end of the life cycle for all denim. Here, three different ways to rock the trend:

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With denim. This look is perfect for running errands during the day. Slip them on with a white V-neck and jean jacket or a chambray button-up and fresh Keds, and you’re ready to make some serious moves. Warning: This look can go Michelle Tanner faster than you can say “You got it, dude,” if paired with the wrong hairstyle or accessories, so avoid high ponytails and keep it casual, not cutesy.

With a blazer. Make printed bottoms office-appropriate by pairing them with a blazer and some smart pumps. I love the pattern play a striped lining creates at the cuffs when they’re rolled. Don’t be afraid of mixing floral with a flash of another print.

With leather. I can’t get enough of the juxtaposition of a soft, girly print with some gritty leather. The gunmetal hardware with a pair of sky-high black suede wedges will take this trend right from day into night.

By Grace Romanowsky, Staff Writer

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March 14, 2013

Rue Road Test: How to Wear the Floppy Hat

With daylight savings on the horizon, dressing for warmer weather is the only thing on my mind now. But these in-between months of waiting to free my dresses from the back of the closet pose big wardrobe challenges, especially in the accessories department. My go-to knit beanie feels out of place with my lighter-weight jackets, but early AM coffee runs simply aren’t an option without a hat (trust me, you don’t want to see my hair when I first wake up).

I’m typically not a fan of “fashion hats” – maybe I’m just bitter that fedoras don’t suit me. But after trying this floppy wide-brimmed hat, I decided it was the perfect compromise, as the felted wool still offers some warmth without looking too wintry, and its slouchy shape gives it an effortless Janis Joplin vibe.

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When to rock it
Day or night, fall or spring. From running errands around town to shopping to brunching with friends, this is one accessory that can accompany you just about everywhere.

What to pair it with
I wore mine with a striped maxi dress, leather jacket, and wavy bedhead hair to venture out for my caffeine fix. It would also work well paired with jeans, wedges, and a chunky loose-knit sweater for running around the city on a weekend.

By Grace Romanowsky, Staff Writer

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March 7, 2013